PhD Student

Last application date
Jan 17, 2022 00:00
LA26 - Department of Data Analysis and Mathematical Modelling
Limited duration
Doctor of Bioscience Engineering: Mathematical Modelling
Occupancy rate
Vacancy type
Research staff

Job description

We welcome applications for a PhD position on the topic “Mathematical modelling of invasion and higher-order interactions in ecosystems”. The PhD scholarship is available in the field of spatio-temporal modelling under the supervision of Prof. Bernard De Baets, Prof. Jan Baetens and Dr. Aisling Daly, at the research unit Knowledge-Based Systems ( at the Faculty of Bioscience Engineering. The scholarship will lead to the title of Doctor of Bioscience Engineering: Mathematical Modelling.

Understanding and predicting how the impacts of invasive species propagate through recipient communities remains a key challenge in ecology. These impacts cannot be fully quantified by determining species-level traits that characterize successful invaders, since these do not account for how invaders interact with each other and with other species in recipient communities. In particular, the vast majority of ecological and mathematical research has focused on pairwise interactions. This neglects interactions that are modified by other species (i.e. higher-order interactions), which can significantly affect coexistence either positively or negatively. Many fundamental questions about higher-order interactions remain unanswered, such as how and when they emerge, and how they affect ecosystem coexistence and stability.

To unravel the mechanisms that allow marine organisms and communities to resist, acclimate, or adapt to invasion by novel species, while retaining ecological functioning under different climate scenarios, the doctoral student will develop and analyze spatio-temporal models built on systems of differential equations.
This topic is part of the interdisciplinary project “Assessing the biological capacity for marine ecosystem resilience: Acclimation and adaptation in a rapidly changing environment” (REACT), which is funded by Ghent University and involves research groups from the Faculty of Bioscience Engineering (Dept. of Data Analysis and Mathematical Modelling) and the Faculty of Science (Dept. of Marine Biology). The REACT project focuses on how global climate changes alters marine ecosystems and the services they provide. The project combines experimental and field-based evidence with spatially explicit models, to predict the resilience of populations and communities under realistic future ocean scenarios, and to understand the consequences for ecosystem functioning.

Job profile

The ideal candidate for the position has the following profile:

  • An MSc degree in (Applied) Mathematics, Mathematical Biology or Mathematical Sciences, (Bioscience) Engineering, Physics, or equivalent
  • An interest in mathematical modelling and ecology and a strong motivation for conducting scientific research
  • Ample experience in at least one programming language (Python, R, Matlab, etc.)
  • A good knowledge of spatio-temporal modelling paradigms is a strong asset
  • Fluent in English (speaking and writing)
  • Works well independently as well as in a team

As Ghent University maintains an equal opportunities and diversity policy, everyone is encouraged to apply for this position.

How to apply

Applications should be sent by email to Ruth Van den Driessche ( before the application deadline (see above). We do not accept late applications.

Your application must include the following documents:

* Your CV and an overview of your study results (merged into one pdf file).

* Your cover letter in pdf format

* A transcript of the required degree (if already in your possession). If you have a foreign diploma in a language other than our national languages (Dutch, French or German) or English, please add a translation in one of the mentioned languages.